Steve Russell: Botched executions are test of government trust

Steve Russell explores the botched execution of an African-American man in Oklahoma:
Indians of all nations are skeptical of the federal government. This is why, even though most tribal societies practiced capital punishment in one form or another, tribal governments have not rushed to opt in to the federal death penalty.

Oklahoma Indians, of all peoples, understand that their state government is even less trustworthy than the federal government. Unfortunately for the men scheduled to be the subjects of a dual execution the night of April 29, Indians didn’t get to judge the state of Oklahoma’s legal battle to keep the methods secret.

The underlying problem is not peculiar to Oklahoma. Because the United States is one of five nations that carry out most of the executions world wide, and because world opinion considers the death penalty to be a human rights violation, the U.S. is subject to what amounts to sanctions for human rights abuses. Drug companies will not sell their wares for the purpose of killing people. With lethal injection being the most common method of execution in the US, there has been a serious shortage of the drugs necessary to carry it out.

For this reason Oklahoma did not wish to divulge either the drugs to be used or the source of those drugs. Oklahoma politicians were so determined to keep their secrets that an order by the Oklahoma Supreme Court resulted in defiance by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin and an impeachment resolution against five justices of that court introduced by Republican State Representative Mike Christian.

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Steve Russell: Botched Oklahoma Execution Is a Test of Your Government Trust (Indian Country Today 4/30)

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